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In the increasingly knowledge-driven economy, intellectual property (IP) is a key consideration in day-to-day business decisions. New products, brands and creative designs appear almost daily on the market and are the result of continuous human innovation and creativity. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are often the driving force behind such innovations. Their innovative and creative capacity, however, is not always fully exploited as many SMEs are not aware of the intellectual property system or the protection it can provide for their inventions, brands, and designs.

If left unprotected, a good invention or creation may be lost to larger competitors that are in better position to commercialize the product or service at a more affordable price, leaving the original inventor or creator without any financial benefit or reward. Adequate protection of a company's intellectual property is a crucial step in deterring potential infringement and in turning ideas into business assets with a real market value. Taking full advantage of the IP system enables companies to profit from their innovative capacity and creativity, which encourages and helps fund further innovation.

ENHANCING COMPETITIVENESS THROUGH IP PROTECTION

Many new products or services embody different types of intellectual property. Forward-looking enterprises face the challenge of extracting the latent value of their IP and using it effectively in their business strategy. Companies that dedicate time and resources to protecting their intellectual property assets can increase their competitiveness in a variety of ways. Intellectual property protection helps in:

    • Preventing competitors from copying or closely imitating a company's products or services.
    • Avoiding wasteful investments in research and development (R&D) and marketing;
    • Creating a corporate identity through a trademark and branding strategy;
    • Negotiating licensing, franchising or other IP-based contractual agreements;
    • Increasing the market value of the company;
    • Acquiring venture capital and enhancing access to finance;
    • Obtaining access to new markets

In addition, enterprises which search systematically for conflicting IP rights of others prior to seeking IP protection are able to avoid unnecessary litigation, thereby saving time and resources.

EFFECTIVE IP MANAGEMENT

Effective IP Management enables companies to use their intellectual property assets to improve their competitiveness and strategic advantage.

Acquiring IP protection is a crucial initial step, but effective IP management means more than just protecting an enterprise's invention, trademarks, designs, or copyright. It also involves a company's ability to commercialize such inventions, market its brands, license its know-how, conclude joint ventures and other contractual agreements involving IP, and effectively monitor and enforce its intellectual property rights. Indeed, a company's portfolio of IP must be viewed as a collection of key assets that add significant value to the enterprise.

SMEs can also benefit from the wealth of technological and commercial information available in patent and trademark databases to learn about recent technological breakthroughs, identify future partners, and find out about the innovative activities of competitors. Managing IP effectively and using it to devise business strategies is an increasingly critical task for entrepreneurs worldwide.

 

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